WHEELING - Wheeling Central offensive coordinator Jason Rine describes Gino Bianconi with one word - goofball. As far as Williamstown is concerned, there's nothing funny about the Maroon Knights' 5-foot-10, 165-pounder.
With quarterback Parker Henry injured on the third play of the game and running back Andrew Keane out since just before halftime, Bianconi spoke for the Wheeling Central masses as the 'Man in Black.' With the Maroon Knights decked out in special dark jerseys, the senior put his team on his back.
Basically out of all other available options - save for Erik Gompers who broke off a few long runs of his own - Bianconi set all-class records for carries (39), rushing yards (355) and rushing touchdowns (five) as the Maroon Knights steamrolled the Yellowjackets, 35-21, for their ninth overall championship and eighth since 2000.
''We had to lean on him a bit more than we wanted to because Parker was hurt, because Andrew Keane was hurt,'' Central coach Mike Young said. ''We've had Eric McGhee here. We've had Chris Martin. We've had Brandon Tucker.
''We've had some great kids since I've coached here. Marcus Clifford is one of the most-versatile athletes we've had. You go back through with those kids and those numbers, and Gino without a doubt is in a league of his own somewhat.''
Not bad for a kid who had to wait his turn for three years. All he did when finally entrusted with the tailback position, was run for 2,132 yards and 31 touchdowns on 216 carries. That's an average of 9.9 yards a carry - video game-type numbers that even Bianaconi could not have envisioned.
''I would have said you were just absolutely out of your mind. Seriously,'' Bianconi said. ''I'm glad my team helped me and I helped them. We got a state championship.
''I'm just speechless right now - it's unbelievable.''
So, too, is Williamstown. It watched Bianconi slash and crash his way to touchdown runs of 18, 27, 19, 21 and 5 yards. Understandably tired at times, Bianconi tapped his helmet a twice during the second half - a signal that he needed a much-deserved breather.
''I'm probably stupid for not giving him the ball more this season,'' Rine said. ''He averaged almost 10 yards a carry, but when you've got Parker Henry, Andrew Keane and Erik Gompers back there, what are you supposed to do?
''And don't forget to credit our offensive line and Braxton Nolte. And everywhere Gino Bianconi runs, Erik Gompers cleared the way.''
Where he ran Saturday night, was into the record books and a special place in Wheeling Central lore.
''It's a dream come true, honestly,'' Bianconi said. ''It pretty much says anyone can do it if they work hard enough and believe in themselves.
''I was pretty surprised, but (the coaching staff) always tells us everyone has to step up and do their job. Not just me - everybody stepped up and did their job. Luckily we got a win.''
But nobody stepped up bigger.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net